Featured photo: Chilean sea bass prepared in a traditional Vietnamese “clay pot” method by Chef Frederick Ngo of Jimmy’s Steak & Seafood. Photo by Jim Noetzel.
Whenever I’m attempting to sum up what I find so special about Shreveport-Bossier’s food scene, I always end up circling the idea that this place is really, truly unpredictable. That is especially true of outstanding international cuisine, which often surfaces in unexpected places. Case in point: I recently had the pleasure of experiencing Chef Frederick Ngo’s clay pot dinner at Jimmy’s Seafood & Steak, a fine dining restaurant located inside of Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City (see their menu page here).
Clay pot fish, or cá kho tộ, is a Vietnamese dish that features fish braised in a sweet and salty sauce. The name “clay pot” comes from the vessel that the dish is traditionally cooked in. That vessel helps caramelize the sauce, which is practically a meal in itself when served with coconut jasmine rice, as it is served at Jimmy’s. When I had it, the fish – in this case, Chilean sea bass – was perfectly braised. While this is a Vietnamese dish, its sauce is as American-friendly as it gets: sweet, salty and loaded with caramelized bacon.
At Jimmy’s, the clay pot fish is served as part of a three-course prix fixe meal at a price of $65. The first course is Ngo’s spicy take on tom yum soup (described as “Asian seafood soup” on the menu), the main entrée is the clay pot fish and the dessert course is a beautifully presented little glass filled with mint leaves, seasonal berries marinated in Grand Marnier and fresh whipped cream. I liked everything about the clay pot dinner, but this dessert course – it’s the perfect summer dessert – was, honestly, unforgettable.
I should also point out that my service experience at Jimmy’s exceeded my expectations. Paul, my server, was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about every aspect of the meal. I complimented Paul at one point, and he responded succinctly: “I’m old school.”
Having had my mind thoroughly blown by the clay pot dinner, I don’t remember what I was expecting from my first meal at Jimmy’s Seafood & Steak. I am certain that I was not expecting to have one of my best encounters with Vietnamese cuisine. I’d imagine that the steaks here are excellent, but it’ll be hard for me to ever bring myself to order one, knowing that the clay pot dinner is an option.